LITCHFIELD, Minn. – The North Iowa Bulls have played games in a lot of locales in their nine-year history.
Until Saturday night, Litchfield, Minnesota was not one of them.
Renovations to the Willmar Civic Center are winding down, with new bleachers being installed in the building. The ice surface went in late this week, with much of the painting being done this weekend. No ice means no hockey for the time being, though, forcing the game to move 27 miles east to the town of 6,700 and its Civic Arena.
The switch in routine didn’t affect the Bulls in the slightest, putting a 6-2 win on the Willmar WarHawks on Saturday night. The North Iowa power play made its mark early, with Harrison Stewart (Rockford, Ill./Amarillo Bulls) squeezing a long-distance snipe through traffic just 4:16 into the contest for the early lead. That goal gave the Bulls a successful man-advantage for the sixth straight night.
Carter Wagner (Lino Lakes, Minn./Odessa Jackalopes) was waiting on the doorstep to make it a 2-0 lead, and got the feed he needed from Lucas Wahlin (Woodbury, Minn./Hill-Murray H.S.) for the tap-in to make it 2-0 at 7:35 of the opening period. Cam Fagerlee (St. Anthony, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) put the visitors ahead 3-0 going to the second period, thanks to a rip from the left half that beat Luc Haggitt just 2:08 before the first-period break.
“The first 10 minutes were pretty tough,” said Fagerlee. “It all started with our goaltending and with our defense getting it up the ice. We were quick in transition all night.”
The WarHawks got the crowd of 375 to its feet in the second period on a goal from Cameron Gee at the 4:05 mark, redirecting a point shot past Joseph Daninger (Blaine, Minn./Blaine H.S.). The answer that made it 4-1 came on a deflection for the Bulls, with Callahan Nauss’s (Wayzata, Minn./Phoenix Jr. Coyotes) wrister from the point hitting Wahlin’s stick in front of the cage. The two teams traded goals throughout the second period, and the lead briefly dipped back to two on a goal from Angelo Perry at the 11:02 mark.
Matt Dahlseide (Maplewood, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) stretched out the lead again with 5:46 remaining on the second-period clock, taking a stretch pass from Fagerlee all the way in before dragging a backhand shot past Haggitt. Dahlseide’s goal came halfway through a Willmar power play off of a tripping call against Ryan Hempel (Katy, Texas/Elliot Lake Wildcats), giving North Iowa its fourth shorthanded goal in just eight games thus far.
The top line came through one final time with Nick Bowlin’s (Oakdale, Minn./North Iowa Bulls) rebound goal at 8:43 of the final period to cap an impressive weekend for Todd Sanden’s top line. Dahlseide ended the night with four assists, and Fagerlee racked up three assists, to go with the goal that each earned during the contest. Daninger made 37 saves to pick up his second win as a Bull, while North Iowa peppered the Willmar net with 55 shots.
“We knew they were going to come hard and battle tonight,” said Daninger. “They tried to put all pucks toward the net and we just had to battle. I got a lot of help from the boys blocking shots and clearing pucks.”
The win sends North Iowa to 6-1 for the season, and gives the Bulls their 11th win over the WarHawks in 12 tries all-time. After playing seven of their first eight games on the road, North Iowa will finally get the chance to settle in for a full weekend at home as the Breezy Point North Stars come to Mason City next Friday and Saturday. Both games are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start at the North Iowa Ice Arena, with live streaming coverage on HockeyTV and free audio streaming on Mixlr.
Advance tickets to those games and any future Bulls home game are available by calling 641-423-4625 or by clicking here. For the latest news and information on North Iowa Bulls hockey, visit www.northiowabulls.com, or follow the team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
North Iowa 3 2 1 – 6
Willmar 0 2 0 – 2
1st Period-1, North Iowa, Stewart 1 (Fagerlee, Dahlseide), 4:16 (PP). 2, North Iowa, Wagner 1 (Wahlin, Roo), 7:35. 3, North Iowa, Fagerlee 7 (Dahlseide, Bowlin), 17:52. Penalties-Brownell Wil (tripping-minor), 0:23; Brownell Wil (holding-minor), 3:43; Bender Wil (hooking-minor), 7:35.
2nd Period-4, Willmar, Gee 1 (Sunderland, Perry), 4:05. 5, North Iowa, Wahlin 7 (Nauss, Dahlseide), 5:46. 6, Willmar, Perry 2 (Santarelli, Sylvester), 11:02 (PP). 7, North Iowa, Dahlseide 3 (Fagerlee, Aguilera), 14:14 (SH). Penalties-Wahlin Nio (slashing-minor), 6:07; Bowlin Nio (cross checking-minor), 10:27; Hempel Nio (tripping-minor), 13:23; Cichosz Nio (interference-minor), 18:38.
3rd Period-8, North Iowa, Bowlin 3 (Fagerlee, Dahlseide), 8:43. Penalties-Svoboda Wil (tripping-minor), 1:09; Nauss Nio (interference-minor), 8:53; Brownell Wil (interference-minor), 11:18; Brownell Wil (holding-minor), 18:32.
Shots on Goal-North Iowa 22-17-16-55. Willmar 7-17-15-39.
Power Play Opportunities-North Iowa 1 / 0; Willmar 1 / 0.
Goalies-North Iowa, Daninger 2-0-0-0 (39 shots-37 saves). Willmar, Haggitt 2-2-0-1 (55 shots-49 saves).
Linesmen-Alec Almquist, Grant Crowell.